17 December 2009

A first encounter with Julian Gough

Thanks to Dalkey's Facebook site and their posting of an amazing interview with Julian Gough:
Do you want your work to be translated? Why or why not?

Of course I do. I want readers. I want to be understood, I want to be misunderstood, I want to get into fights, I want to swim in the Dead Sea, I want to die in my swimsuit, I want to visit Siberia (but leave again), I want to butt in on your national conversation, drink your national drink, shoot and stuff your national bird, eat your national icecream, kiss your poets and pat your dogs and weep at the airport as we hug each other and exchange email addresses and our respective national varieties of flu.

Given a choice, would you prefer a faithful, literal translation of your work or an interpretive re-imagining of it? Why?

An interpretive re-imaging, definitely. I don’t think a “faithful, literal” translation of my work – of any work - is even possible. If a translation were to be literal, it wouldn’t be faithful, and vice versa. Any decent writer is playing with nuances, rhythms, echoes, soundstuff that will evaporate in any literal translation. I like a lot of layers. Puns, resonances, double-meanings, Tipperaryisms, things my mum says at Christmas. Often the point of the sentence hasn’t anything to do with its literal meaning at all.

I use deliberately “wrong”, literal translations of phrases from the Irish language sometimes myself, because they sound fecking great in English. Friends of my dad would still say “I walked several strong miles”, and that is straight out of the Irish.

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